European consumers may finally be able to pay for items via their smartphones next year, through a system under development by LG Electronics.
LG's system would use a combination of near-field communication (NFC) and cloud computing to allow certain retailers in Europe to accept payments from customers using NFC-equipped smartphones. Scheduled to launch sometime in 2012, the system would also find its way into interactive TVs and security products sold by LG, Reuters reported this week.
"The point-of-sale technology, which will be targeted at small and medium-sized businesses..., is currently in beta testing," Jin-Yong Kim, vice president for business solutions at LG's Home Entertainment division, told Reuters.
NFC technology lets different devices talk to each other over a very short distance. As a result, a consumer could pay for items at stores and restaurants by using a smartphone to send payment information from a bank account to a register or terminal.
The move by LG follows a plan just announced by T-Mobile to launch an NFC-based payment system in the U.K. Working with telecom provider Orange and financial firm Barclaycard, T-Mobile plans to debut its system in early summer. Separately, AT&T Mobility, Verizon Wireless, and T-Mobile revealed in the fall their intention to create a mobile payments network called Isis, slated to launch within the next year and a half.
To tap into these upcoming NFC payment systems, consumers will need smartphones outfitted with the technology. Google appears to be at the head of the pack, equipping its Nexus S Android phone with an NFC chip and adding support for the technology to Android 2.3, or Gingerbread. But Apple is also reportedly working on getting the necessary NFC hardware into the next versions of the iPhone and iPad, both of which will be out this year.